State of Origin: Gallen saviour of NSW

Paul Gallen fronts the media in Wollongong yesterday. Picture: ANDY ZAKELINSW lock Paul Gallen could be the man to lead the Blues into a new era of success as part of a plan discussed by newly installed State of Origin captain Trent Barrett.The former St George Illawarra star and Cronulla skipper will lead NSW onto the field for the first time in what is almost certainly to be his last Origin appearance.But Barrett has spoken to Gallen about developing the Sharks enforcer’s leadership skills in order to help solve the Blues’ ongoing captaincy woes.The captaincy was stripped from Kurt Gidley and handed to Barrett after the versatile Newcastle fullback was named on the bench for Wednesday’s third Origin clash with Queensland in Sydney.Barrett took over the captaincy at Cronulla last year when Gallen quit after being embroiled in a racism controversy with former Dragons and now Bulldogs forward Mickey Paea.However, Gallen has revealed that Barrett told him he could be the man to bring the Origin shield back to NSW next year.”Trent has actually spoken to me about being a captain and that he can help me in the future,” Gallen said.”With his help I can probably be a better captain, yeah.”He hasn’t spoken in depth about it, (but said) he’d love to help out if he’s finished.”I’d love to see him keep playing and keep the NSW captaincy,” he added.NSW yesterday held a team meeting at their Wollongong base, putting behind them the racism saga that rocked the camp before game two.Assistant coach Andrew Johns was sacked for calling Greg Inglis a “black c…” before that game and Timana Tahu left in protest.Desperate to put some pride back in the sky blue jersey after losing a fifth successive series with the 34-6 loss at Suncorp Stadium, Gallen said he would try to lead by example at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday.”I just lead by playing footy, I’m pretty simple like that,” he said.”I just go out there and do my best on the field and people see that as having leadership qualities, by going out there and working hard.”Gallen welcomed suggestions that Sharks coach Ricky Stuart would take over NSW next year if Craig Bellamy steps down.Stuart will leave the Cronulla post at the end of the year, with Sharks assistant Shane Flanagan – also on the NSW coaching staff – already declaring he will reinstate Gallen as club captain next year.”He’s very passionate,” Gallen said of Stuart.”If you brought Stick (Stuart) in, he’d be a perfect change.”They’d bring different tactics because they are different coaches, but a change might be what NSW need.”Gallen said he was comfortable with the reasons Bellamy stated for overlooking him for this year’s series opener.Bellamy told him he was making too many errors and “trying too hard” in NRL games.However, Gallen said he doesn’t feel the need to overplay his hand for NSW, having attempted to lead the Sharks – who have struggled for the past two seasons – back towards the top eight.”If you have a look at the Origin games and Test games I don’t try as hard, I just do my job and I think I perform pretty well at Test and Origin level,” he said.”It’s a different game for me and I’m probably more comfortable coming in at Origin level, because I know I only have to do my job.”Whereas at Cronulla I probably try to do everything,” he admitted.”And that’s what it’s been like because we’ve been struggling until the last month or five weeks, where I’ve just been able to do my job.”
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